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Chicago Bears Kicks Off ‘Gameday Eats’ to Support Restaurants

Also, the Tamale Guy slightly delays his debut inside a West Loop bar

The concrete front facade of Soldier Field stadium, with seven American flag waving.
Soldier Field is not in Arlington Heights.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

It’s been just over a month since Chicago’s bars and restaurants fully reopened after more than a year of pandemic restrictions, but the road to economic recovery remains long and daunting for many in the hospitality industry. With football season approaching, the Chicago Bears are offering a select few restaurants promotional partnerships and marketing opportunities.

Applications are live. The team will select four Chicago-area restaurants and food-service businesses for the Chicago Bears’ Small Business All-Pros Gameday Eats Edition and winners will see promotion on the team’s social media accounts, website, email newsletter, and inside Soldier Field. Access to a new potential customer base — thousands of Bears fans — could help as restaurants navigate a labor crisis that’s swept the industry. While the Bears offer deals to become the official pizza or beer of the team, that kind of marketing is quite costly for independent restaurant operators.

This is the second year of the program and the team is accepting applications now through Monday, July 19. Winners will be announced the week of September 7. Organizers first launched the initiative last year and included all kinds of small businesses, including Pilsen venue Thalia Hall, caterer Jus Sandwiches, and Small World Bar & Grille on the city’s South Side.

The Bears start the regular season on September 12, while preseason starts August 14.

In other news...

— Chicago’s famed “Tamale Guy” Claudio Velez won’t open his opening inside West Loop bar Lone Wolf this week. Son Osmar Abad Cruz says they’re delaying the opening and will update the public soon. Velez hoped to start slinging his banana leaf-wrapped tamales on Friday.

— Brewery incubator and taproom Pilot Project Brewing will kick off its first festival, Pilot Project Fest 2021, from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 8 in Logan Square, according to a rep. The event is slated to feature 12 partners and collaborators, including Old Irving Park’s Eris Brewery & Cider House, Humboldt Park’s Orkenoy, and current incubee Histrionic Brewlab, along with food vendors and music. Admission ($40 for early birds) include beer samplings from all vendors and a special festival glass. Tickets are available via Eventbrite.

— Despite optimistic headlines to the contrary, historic bar and bowling venue Southport Lanes remains permanently closed and its contents are being auctioned off, according to the Tribune. Owner Steve Soble told Eater Chicago in September 2020 that it was financially impossible to keep the business open in light of pandemic restrictions. Block Club Chicago reported in January that a reopening was possible.

Southport Lanes & Billiards

3325 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 472-6600 Visit Website

Lone Wolf

806 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 600-9391 Visit Website

Pilot Project Brewing

2140 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 270-5995 Visit Website